About the AACC event in Houston

Thanks to Delie and Sharon, some info from Michael's speaking engagement in Houston Thursday afternoon...

This photo was posted by one of the attendees:

There have also been some mentions in postings online:

Michael Ware, an international correspondent for CNN who was kidnapped by al Qaeda and lived to tell about it, brought a different perspective to the day-long seminar. His security focus for the energy industry came down to infrastructure. Such infrastructure is certainly a target of al Qaeda, he said. 'That they haven't launched such an attack yet just astounds me,' Ware said. He said 9/11 was 'al Qaeda making a point, and they made it. Dramatically.' The anarchy and instability in the Middle East 'suits al Qaeda,' he said, because it operates in the margins. 'It's no longer the al Qaeda of old that we need to fear … it's young Pakistanis who were born in Birmingham who are blowing themselves up in the London Tube. It's home-grown' lone wolves acting without any direct link or coordination from al Qaeda headquarters that is a cause for fear, he added.

Since US forces arrived in Iraq in March 2003, Iran has used the occupation to expand its influence in Iraq. Michael Ware, CNN international correspondent and chief primetime foreign correspondent, told participants at an Australian and American Energy Conference coordinated by the Australian American Chamber of Commerce in Houston that by invading Iraq, America unwittingly removed Iran’s greatest regional foe. “The power balance of the Middle East has been shifted by American intervention,” Ware said. “The physical border that Iraq provided is gone.”
By invading Iraq, Ware said, the US has in effect gone to war with Iran, explaining that Teheran is backing many of the warring factions in Iraq. “Behind every Iraqi face you are dealing with is an Iranian,” he said. “The depth of Iran’s penetration in Iraq knows no bounds.”
Recent estimates put Iraq’s oil reserves in the range of 400 Bbbl. And according to information published by Douglas-Westwood Ltd., leases awarded in the last two Iraqi bid rounds contain more than 9 MMb/d in producible reserves in the next decade – should they come online. That figure is approximately the same amount Saudi Arabia is producing today.  Instability in Iraq places those reserves in jeopardy.
It is not only potential developments that are at stake according to Ware. “Al Qaeda knows our weak points – our Achilles heel – are economics and energy,” he explained. “It is only a matter of time” until terrorists choose areas critical to energy as targets.
The upcoming elections in Iraq will be critical, Ware said. “It is a ‘winner take all’ scenario.” According to Ware, the elections are so important in the region that the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia have backed Sunni factions within Iraq to oppose those funded and supported by Iran.
“With American withdrawal, America’s ability to influence the Iraqi government is negligible at best,” Ware said.